Meet the new supermarket, same as the old supermarket

In China, a supermarket has introduced a brand new, whizzbang up to the minute supermarket format – one in which shoppers sit in an electric rollercoaster car and are whizzed around the store, slowing to pluck goodies from the aisles.

As the commentator notes at the end of this wee clip, the only disadvantage is that if you miss something, you’ll need to do the whole thing all over again.

What’s most striking about this, to my mind at least, is that it’s an almost complete return to the original concept of the supermarket as engineered by Clarence Saunders, the inventor of the King Piggly Wiggly chain of supermarkets in 1916. In his supermarkets, shoppers were guided around the supermarket by following a path hemmed with chicken wire. The supermarket attendants were prohibited from telling the shoppers anything about the food, and consumers’ only connection to what was being produced was the label on the packaged product.

The supermarket rollercoaster, a fad if ever there were, does just the same thing. No need to ask if the supermarket has anything in particular – you’re conveyed past everything that’s on the shelves, whether you like it or not. And the only attendants around are there to fix your roller coaster car.

Plus ça change.